Cover image of Nick Bertozzi's 'The Salon'
Nick Bertozzi is a supremely talented writer and artist in addition to being a rad guy, a teacher and a father. You'd be doing yourself a real favor by checking out any of his past work, but this month we see the release of two new graphic novels from Nick.

Houdini: The Handcuff King, by Nick with Jason Lutes, examines a day in the life of escape artist Harry Houdini, while THE SALON is Bertozzi's utterly amazing tale of Picasso, Braque, Stein, Satie and Apollinaire in early 20th century Paris (Mature Readers).

Go right now and check out more samples from both books at Nick's website and then come back here to read our recent conversation with the man himself.

CA: So I'm sure you're getting a lot of this, but you're looking pretty prolific what with two graphic novels getting released in the same month. Do you feel like you're going to have to keep up this pace? Like you'll be up to 7 books a month by 2009?

NB: The books were supposed to come out a year apart and there was no overlap in the drawing at all. But if it came down to it, I know I could draw a graphic novel per month. Just kidding!

CA: The Handcuff King looks totally amazing. How was the experience of working with Jason Lutes?

NB: I got paid to learn at the knee of one of the best living American cartoonists and work from his thumbnails.

CA: Tell me something I didn't know about Houdini that you found out from working on this project.

NB: He was a jogger!

Panel from 'Houdini: The Handcuff King' by Nick Bertozzi and Jason Lutes

CA: Now, you know me and how my tastes skew more towards the pro-wrestling, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, explosions, heat-vision, exotic dancers, skeet shooting side of things – so when I read the description of THE SALON I was a little like, "Huh?" because I didn't show up for any classes in college. But then I read some of your descriptions of the book and was really drawn in by the questions you're asking about how the real daily life of these artists effected their work. I'm not interested in learning things I already know about an artist ... I'd much rather know what Glenn Danzig does on a normal Saturday afternoon than how he put Samhain together. I can't wait to read THE SALON. That's not really a question ... thoughts?

NB: I've always felt like there's been a wall between history and students and I wanted to bring that down with THE SALON and show how an art movement was really born. The newspaper comics that Picasso read, the chamber-pot that Braque used, all these sort of things are important to understanding how Cubism was created.

CA: THE SALON has been a pretty long time in the making. When did you start and what was the hardest part of the process? I imagine you had quite a bit of research to deal with.

NB: I started THE SALON in early 2002 on serializer.net as a lark. A month or two in I realized what I'd gotten myself into. I had to do a ton of research and figure out the ending.

CA: So what else is going on? What's really next for you? What comics are you reading? What music are you listening to?

NB: I've spent a lot of time getting out the word about THE SALON and Houdini, but I've been drawing Persimmon Cup, a sci-fi/fantasy comic for the online comix collective that I'm part of, ACT-I-VATE. I also just signed a contract for Houghton-Mifflin to draw a Lenny Bruce bio-comic written by Harvey Pekar.

I read anything that Christophe Blain does and I just picked up another volume of ENOMOTO, the funniest comic ever. I've been listening a lot to ENO and ELO, but no EMO!